WHILE three defeats in Group B of the Bons Secours Hospital Cork SAFC have left Bandon facing a relegation play-off, their second-half performances give cause for optimism.
The Lilywhites meet Newmarket in Coachford on Saturday (4pm) after losses to Kiskeam, Dohenys and Béal Athan Ghaorthaidh. The cumulative margin of defeat in those games was 11 points, but Bandon were 17 points worse off across the first halves of the three matches before ‘winning’ the second periods by a total of six.
Manager Colm Aherne is optimistic that, if they put together a 60-minute performance, they can retain their place in the second tier.
“Something we’ve spoken about is the fact that, in all three games, we’ve had terrible first-half performances,” he says.
“We’ve done well in the second halves of games then but have just left ourselves with too much to do. Speaking about it with the coach, management, the captain and nobody seems to be able to put their finger on why it is.
“We’ve been trailing by five or six points at half-time in all of our championship games and we’ve manged to come back close – we got back to two against Kiskeam and lost by three, against Dohenys we got it back to three before they pushed on and we got back level against Ballingeary and lost by one.
“If we could get our second-half performance for 60 minutes, we’d be very confident.”
While Aherne is a fan of the current championship format, he acknowledges how difficult it can be for dual clubs to balance commitments in both codes.
“Across all of our challenge games, league games and championship games, not once all year have we been able to put out the same team twice,” he says.
“Come championship, you’d usually have around 12 of the spots nailed down but this year we’ve been having rob Peter to pay Paul.
“Nothing says that more than the last game. We got Mark Sugrue back, his first game of football since the match against Dohenys in last year’s championship, and we then we lost Barry Collins.
“The actual format, I’d be very much in favour of the group stages. The only thing is that, ideally, for dual clubs you’d have two weeks between games but that’s just not possible in a county the size of Cork. It’s asking a lot of clubs to go week in and week out with the same group of players.
“You can see it locally – the likes of ourselves, Newcestown and Valleys have struggled a bit to balance the two codes since the group format has come in. Unless you’re a club like St Finbarr’s, a city team with enough numbers to almost have two separate teams, it’s hard to compete at senior level, getting to semi-finals and finals.”